Research Point: Tutor Recommendation – Alison Watt

Alison Watt Part of the Phantom series, oil on canvas, 2007.

In my tutor feedback recommended that I look at 2 new artists the English artist Jenny Saville and Scottish artist Alison Watt. After a quick glance at some of their art work I decided to look at the paintings of Alison Watt first.

Alison Watt OBE is a Scottish painter, born in Greenock on 11 December 1965. She studied at Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 1988. Prior to graduating she won the John Player Portrait Award and as a result was commissioned to paint a portrait of the Queen Mother. Her first pieces to become famous were bluntly painted figurative canvases, more often than not female nudes, within light filled interiors.

In 1997 in an exhibition entitled simply ‘Fold’ she introduced fabric alongside these figures for the first time. In 2000 she was offered a solo exhibition at the Scottish national Gallery of Modern Art and was the youngest ever artist to be given this chance. This exhibition was called Shift and it consisted of 12 huge paintings that featured just fabric.

Alison Watt - Fold Exhibition
Alison Watt – Fold Exhibition

I’ve looked at many of her paintings and I wanted to say something like this ‘her early paintings seemed to be of the piece of fabric as a whole, the creases, the folds and the patterns that they make all on one canvas, painting cloth as a hyper-realist (if that makes sense) but it seems as though as she has developed, she has taken the same approach to painting fabric as Georgia O’Keeffe did with plants, flowers and other natural forms, moving towards painting more abstract with almost sexual qualities. In fact some of Alison Watts paintings echo the painting style of O’Keeffe.’

Alison Watt - Shift Collection of Scottish national
Alison Watt – Shift Collection of Scottish national
Alison Watt - Rosebud
Alison Watt – Rosebud
Alison watt - Riviere
Alison watt – Riviere
Alison Watt - Sabine
Alison Watt – Sabine
Alison Watt - Untitled II
Alison Watt – Untitled II
Alison Watt - Shoal 2013
Alison Watt – Shoal 2013
Alison Watt - Phantom
Alison Watt – Phantom

Looking at Alison Watts’ Paintings it seems like her earlier paintings of figure and fabric  helped her to see something in the folds, their beauty, energy, individuality and even sexual characteristics with each individual fold expressing something different.

Alison Watt - Echo
Alison Watt – Echo

The colour of the fabric in the paintings is something we take for granted in photos. We just see white because that’s what our eyes tell us it is, white fabric. If we look closer at Echo above for example, we can see blue, orange, pink and all the other colours that make up the light and shadows.

I had already thought about how I could draw a white door for example using lots of different colours and I think this maybe something I should try in my final assignment.









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